New Marine Commons Along the Chilean Coast: The Management Areas (MAs) of Peñuelas and Chigualoco

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"To halt degradation of benthic resources in Chile, management areas (MAs) were set up under the Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries (TURFs) framework in the late 1990s. Integrated into the global market, MAs have since expanded along the Chilean coast, involving thousands of small-scale artisanal fishers. This paper analyses how economic criteria relates to social and ecological performance of Chilean MAs, by applying TURFs, commons and co-management theory to two cases: MAs Peñuelas and Chigualoco. To collect and analyse data Participatory Rural Appraisal tools, interviews and official statistics and reports were used. Our results show that MAs economic benefits are connected to fluctuations on the global market. Adapting to changing world market prices then becomes paramount. TURFs main goal is ecological conservation, but achieving this seems to depend on meeting fishers livelihoods; failure to do so likely results in failure to meet conservation objectives. A serious weakness of the Chilean TURFs system is that it does not pay enough attention to fishers livelihoods or to the global market context. Furthermore, there is a strong relationship between good economic benefits and social sustainability. But irrespective of economic performance, fisher organizations have been empowered and gained increased resource control with the TURFs system. At policy level, a differentiated and more flexible system could be more suitable for existing heterogeneous MAs and their particular economic, social and ecological challenges. For improved economic sustainability and resource conservation, a system with multiplespecies managing MAs could be promoted as well. Finally, to enhance theory of commons, co-management and TURFs, we argue for greater acknowledgement of TURFs social benefits in addition to economic assessments. More attention should also be paid to global market conditions of which MAs are dependent and in which they are embedded: macrostructures that are seldom considered in the analyses."
collective action, commons, economics, resource management, sustainability, socio-economic systems, TURFs